Think you can’t enjoy favorite comfort foods like lasagna on the kidney diet? DaVita renal dietitian Dana from Georgia overheard her patient saying that she missed lasagna because it wasn't allowed on the renal diet. This statement sparked Dana to create Stephanie’s Wholesome Lasagna. Now this creamy Italian casserole isn’t just for Stephanie but for kidney patients everywhere to enjoy.
One day you look at yourself in the mirror and realize that after growing up in a farming community, quickly burning out in your job as a restaurant manager and fearing that you won’t be able to make it as a professional comedian — you may need to find a “real job.” These are the life events that led DaVita renal dietitian Dana from Georgia to become a renal dietitian. This decision has proved a good one for Dana from the very start. She remembers, “During my dietetic internship, I found that I really enjoyed going over labs with my patients, helping them determine how an individual’s lifestyle and eating behaviors are directly reflected in their lab values, as well as short-term and long-term health outcomes.”
Dana likes that she is able to be creative in her job, whether it be helping educate and motivate patients or modifying recipes so people can enjoy their favorite foods and still keep their lab results in a healthy range. “My patients think they have to eliminate so many foods from their lives because they are on a renal diet,” says Dana, adding, “This belief has influenced my approach to nutrition interventions — there’s room for everything until your labs say otherwise.”
When it comes to keeping lab results in a healthy range by controlling sodium, potassium and phosphorus and remembering to take phosphorus binders, Dana tries to empower her patients by helping them believe that they have the ability to make healthy changes. She also makes the effort to involve as many people as possible to influence and support her patients. Dana shares, “The patient's family, friends, nephrologist and primary care physician can all influence how the patient eats, exercises and lives. I’ve found that these nutrition and lifestyle interventions result in the best patient outcomes.”
In addition to promoting good health and nutrition, Dana says she and her teammates encourage laughter and a good sense of humor at their center. Add a slice of Dana’s kidney-friendly Stephanie’s Wholesome Lasagna and it’s easy to keep a smile on your face.